I’ve given up eating cow’s flesh but returned to wearing blackened cow’s skin. I’ve recently, and perhaps only temporarily, but then again, perhaps permanently, given up my cardigans for black leather biker jackets. I have almost as many of these black babies in leather as I do of the woollies, but they had been stowed away for a few years now. It is October in New England, so it may seem perfectly logical to throw on thick black leather over thin numb bones, but actually, I started wearing leather again this summer, in the Bay Area. Again, because it is Northern California, wearing leather in the summer is not so crazy. But I doggedly wore the black leather biker jackets, even through the intermittent days in the mid 70s, sweating against the padded lining and still refusing to trade it in for something thinner and circulation-friendly.
I’m wearing the leather jackets now as I wear my angora sweaters: to make me feel warm and feminine. But in both temperature and femininity, the warmth of a leather jacket is not the warmth of wool. The sweater warms you by cozying up to you: when yarn fibers drill into your pores, it’s like the sweater is a lover who wants to fuck you. The leather biker jacket doesn’t cling to you: it keeps you warm for sure, but it is a warmth that makes you feel more hollow. The padding separates your skin from the carapace of the jacket, and you feel more tender and forkable in your warmth. Wearing the leather stylizes the empty feeling I carry with me so it feels more like a hole rather than a void. What I am doing when I wrap myself in a tough black biker jacket is turning myself into a handbag.
When I’m surrounded by the laminated skin of something killed, my own skin melts away, my own flesh melts away, and all I am is not the squishiness of my sweetmeats but the steam that would rise from them should I ever be gutted for the sake of a small leathergood. But that is a heat of sorts, and a heat that makes me forget the vacancy of love foreclosed. The thick black leather that surrounds me turns my entire body into the black hole, the rabbit hole, the wishing well to kiss and tell. It is a place in my head where I long to suck in that boy I love. It isn’t forever, but then, it’s not the weather, either. It’s a way of drawing expensive hearts and flowers around the emptiness and calling it an ideal, a vulva in my brain, a dream:
I was in a big loud house party full of twentysomethings. I was at the party with the particular boy I’ve been in love with for the last year. The boy told me he wanted to spend the night with me and we snuggled together on the floor amid cushions and cheap throws. In the pit of my stomach, I felt 22 years old (instead of 36). We smoked up a bunch of mind-numbing stuff. Then amid the giddiness of fully-clothed cuddling, I blacked out. When I woke up, the party was over and the boy was gone. I wandered around the house and someone familiar was yelling at me about being irresponsible. I missed my boy but all I could do was worry about having blacked out. I walked up to the rooftop of the house and this familiar angry person accused me: “Look what you’ve done! Now they think it is OK to do this!” I looked up. I had thought it was morning but there were stars. The black tarred rooftop was covered with broken glass. Neighbors in a higher house next door were throwing bottles out their window onto our rooftop. The moment the bottles hit the roof they shattered into powder. I know glass doesn’t break like that but it was my dream, and bottles bypassing shard directly into sand made the whole idea of breaking seem not violent, not destructive, not a loss. But I still had a feeling of dread. So I hugged myself hard and I felt a bit better. The neighbors continued to launch bottles and the angry familiar person was still yelling at me, but all I wanted to do was take my shoes off and press my feet into the ground glass. But I didn’t because I woke up. It was 2:00 AM, September 8, 2010, and there were indeed stars out still.